By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Strasburg filled its public works chief post, but officials want to try to make do without an assistant town manager.
Town Manager Judson Rex introduced Mark Gundersen to Town Council at its meeting Tuesday as Strasburg's new director of public works. Gundersen, who starts the position later this month, currently works in the private sector but has been involved in prior town projects. Gundersen replaces John Rhodes, who retired recently after working for the town for several decades.
Rex also updated council on the status of the assistant town manager position currently vacant with the departure of Greg Martin, who left in April to take a municipal government job in New Mexico. Rex told council he had reassigned some of the duties previously handled by the assistant town manager to other employees. For example, town clerk Amy Keller also now oversees operations of the visitors center, Rex said. Other employees also have helped assume some of the other duties.
"I'm gonna try to see if we can get by without this position and I'm trying to make sure that all the duties get covered and the priorities of the council are met -- at that same time there are some responsibilities that we're still working on covering, such as our human resources duties," Rex said. "As you know, our audit each year pries into the question of those duties being mixed in with other duties and the same person having all these responsibilities and there's not a check in place."
The town was in the process of shifting some of the responsibilities in question to the assistant town manager when Martin left, according to Rex.
The assistant town manager also oversaw economic development efforts, a responsibility Rex said he hopes to keep on the forefront even without an official in charge of that duty. Rex advised he would report back to council in the next couple of months with an update on the effort to reassign responsibilities and whether or not the town should seek to fill or cut the position.
"I want to hold it for now and look at how the duties are being fulfilled and, if the time comes that I think it should be eliminated then I'd make that recommendation," Rex told council, adding that he would update members on whether the town would try to fill the position.
Also at the meeting:
- Council approved a contract with Patton, Harris, Rust & Associates to perform professional engineering services for the town's water system. The town has approximately $2 million in grant money left in the water treatment plant construction project. In order to use the remaining funds, the town must procure a contract for a system evaluation, preliminary engineering and design work.
- Appointed Mark A. Clem to the Maintenance Code Board of Appeals to a term ending in December 2014 and Calvin D. Wallace as an alternate member.
- Appointed Chad J. Conrad to serve on the town Planning Commission to fill an unexpired term ending December this year.
- Discussed the issue of street lights in downtown which do not work. Strasburg police helped the town to identify the lights that do not work and Rex said the information has been passed on to Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative for repairs.
- Heard a report from town Finance Director Dottie Mullins, who noted Strasburg issued 46 cut-off notices to water customers for non-payment. The number of notices has decreased over the past few months in part because the town now accepts payments by credit cards. Mullins also told council the town began this month issuing pay stubs to employees electronically in an effort to reduce paper and printing costs.